Italy Miss Out On Top Spot In Group G
2018 World Cup Qualifier Report: Italy v Macedonia 06 October 2017
2018 World Cup Qualifier
Result: Italy 1-1 Macedonia
Date: 06 October 2017
Venue: Olimpico Grande Torino
Italy limped to a 1-1 draw with Macedonia at the Stadio Olimpico in Friday night’s FIFA World Cup qualifier — mathematically killing off their already slim chance of finishing top of Group G.
In the seventh minute, Lorenzo Insigne found himself with a wonderful chance to score the opener as he got in behind the Macedonia defence following a one-two with Ciro Immobile. However, Stole Dimitrievski rushed off his line to deny him.
However, that was Italy’s only clear chance in the opening phase of the game — as Macedonia defended superbly to keep them at bay. In the 17th minute, Goran Pandev was even able to force a Gianluigi Buffon save at the near post.
Nevertheless, Italy continued to dominate possession and were finally rewarded in the 40th minute. Insigne played Immobile through and the Lazio striker unselfishly set Giorgio Chiellini up for a simple right-footed finish.
Two minutes later, Chiellini was called into action at the other end as Ilja Nestorovski was played through and the Juventus man had to take the ball off him and put it behind for a corner.
As a result of his heroics, Italy went into half-time leading 1-0.
Stefan Spirovski picked up the first yellow card of the game in the 53rd minute for a foul on Davide Zappacosta. A mere eight minutes later, Ferhan Hasani was handed the second.
Nevertheless, Macedonia continued to frustrate Gian Piero Ventura’s side, who finally saw their first yellow card in the 69th minute following a Marco Parolo foul on Stefan Ristovski.
Ezdzhan Alioski caused nightmares for Italy both on attack and defence — and in the 71st minute, his cross found Nestorovski in a dangerous position. However, his close-range header went straight at Buffon.
Macedonia continued to press for an equaliser and sensationally found one in the 77th minute, when Pandev played Aleksandar Trajkovski in and his right-footed shot went in at the far post.
The result itself will not be of too much concern for Italy, who were already almost certain to finish second behind Spain in Group G before kick-off. However, the Azzurri’s performance suggests that qualification for the World Cup is far from a certainty.
As the playoffs for Russia’s showpiece next year approach, the 2006 World Champions desperately need to rediscover their winning touch.